How to time travel in Animal Crossing: Complete guide

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  • Time travel in Animal Crossing allows you to progress through the story quickly, unlock new bugs and fish, and more.
  • To travel back in time in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, you need to change your Switch’s date and time settings.
  • If you travel too far back in time, your villagers might relocate and weeds will grow all over town.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference Library for more stories.

In many ways, Animal Crossing is a game of patience. You have to wait for buildings to be constructed, special NPCs to come to town, and new fish and bugs to appear. In other words: few things happen quickly. And when you consider the game to be happening in real time, you could be waiting days or even weeks.

But what Nintendo won’t tell you is that there is a way to avoid the wait: time travel. And you don’t need to craft any special in-game items to do so – just open your Switch’s Settings menu.

Here’s a primer on how to time travel in Animal Crossing, how it works, and what the risks of jumping too much are.

How to time travel in Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Be sure to completely close Animal Crossing before doing this – remember to save and quit first!

1. Select the System Parameters option on your Switch home screen.

2. Scroll to the bottom of the Settings page and select System.

3. Scroll again to select date and time.

The system settings page on a Nintendo Switch.  The Date and Time option is highlighted.

Open date and time settings.

William Antonelli/Insider


4. At the top of the Date and Time page, you will see an option called Synchronize the clock via the Internet. Select this to rotate it Disabled.

5. Once off, select the date and time option. Use the options to choose the date and time you want to travel, past or future, then click Okay.

The menu of a Nintendo Switch that allows you to choose the console's date and time.

You have an autonomy of 60 years to travel in time.

William Antonelli/Insider


Once you restart Animal Crossing, it will be the date and time you chose.

How time travel works in Animal Crossing

As mentioned, Animal Crossing works in real time. When it’s midnight in real life, it will also be midnight on your island. The game is able to tell what time it is by syncing with your Switch’s internal clock. So if you change the time and date on your Switch, it will also change in-game.

You can use time travel to jump days, weeks, or even months ahead. Do you need a winter exclusive fish for the museum, but it’s August? Just move forward six months and take what you need. You can even go back to the present day and continue playing as usual.

Here are some other cool things you can do with time travel:

  • When you ask Tom Nook to upgrade your house, skip a day for him to build it instantly
  • Keep advancing day by day until a special NPC (Redd, Flick, etc.) appears in your town
  • Change the day to refresh what the Able Sisters and Nook’s Cranny are selling
  • Live the experience day or night on your island, no matter when you’re actually playing
  • Put money in the bank, then step forward a decade to collect interest

A screenshot from the Animal Crossing: New Horizons game, showing a letter telling the player that they have earned 9,999 Bells in bank interest.

You will be able to keep any interest you earn, even after you return to the present day.

nintendo


Also, if you come across an NPC that gives you a single item on the day they spawn, like Celeste or Gulliver, you can use time travel to quickly unlock everything they offer. Simply get the special item from them, time travel one day forward, then travel back in time to the day they showed up. They will reappear to give you another item.

Even though Nintendo doesn’t support time travel, you won’t be punished for it. You can still play online with any other Animal Crossing player, even if your game is twenty years ahead of theirs.

The only thing you can’t do is participate in special holiday events before they happen, because your clock needs to be connected to the internet to trigger them.

The risks of time travel in Animal Crossing: New Horizons

A screenshot from Animal Crossing: New Horizons, showing the player standing in a patch of weeds.

Large patches of weeds will grow around your island if you are away for too long.

nintendo


Compared to previous games in the series, there are fewer downsides to time travel in New Horizons. But there are still a few downsides you should consider before jumping too far or too often.

  • Villagers may move out if too much time passes without talking to them.
  • If you time travel backwards or forwards past the following Sunday, all of your turnips will rot.
  • The flowers in your town may wither and weeds will grow everywhere.
  • Cockroaches will infest your home.
  • You will lose your Nook Stop bonus streak, which earns you free Nook Miles for each day you use the machine in a row.

If these drawbacks seem worth it, go ahead and change your Switch’s clock.

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